Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan on Wednesday assigned the party leadership task to make vote of confidence for Punjab Chief Minister Parvez Elahi a success.

According to party insiders, those who have been assigned responsibilities include Speaker Sibtain Khan, Usman Buzdar, Mian Aslam Iqbal, Mahmood-ur-Rashid and Abbas Alamdar.

The insiders said that PTI chief instructed them to complete the process of communication with the members of the PTI, the PML-Q and others to ensure their presence during the vote of confidence.

They claimed that at present, three members would likely miss the assembly session on January 9 or go against the party policy.

The PTI and the PML-Q have the support of 187 members.

NO-CONFIDENCE WITHDRAWN: In what seems to be a bid to save themselves from embarrassment, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) withdrew no-trust motions against Punjab Assembly Speaker Sibtain Khan and Deputy Speaker Wasiq Qayyum.

The move was based on fears that the opposition would not be able to bag 186 votes in a secret ballot to send the speaker and deputy speaker packing and the failure to dislodge them may reflect poorly on the opposition’s ‘tall claims’ that Chief Minister Parvez Elahi would not be able to secure the trust vote. Also, the decision was taken in anticipation of Sibtain Khan’s rescheduling of the assembly session on Jan 9 to take up both motions.

In a no-confidence motion against the PA speaker and deputy speaker, the movers needed to present 186 votes in the house to oust the two officials. On papers, the opposition led by PML-N has 180 votes in the house while the PTI and its ally PML-Q have 190 votes, according to the Punjab Assembly website.

On the other hand, in order to win the trust vote, CM Elahi needs to secure 186 votes through a show of hands. It may be noted here that the opposition has already retracted its no-confidence motion against CM Elahi following the Lahore High Court’s decision to restore the chief minister on the assurance that the provincial assembly would not be dissolved, at least until the next date of hearing i.e. Jan 11.

THE FEAR: A PML-N lawmaker said the efforts to woo PTI and PML-Q lawmakers did not prove fruitful so the decision to withdraw the motions was made to save the opposition from embarrassment.

He said the Sharif family and PPP leader Asif Ali Zardari had decided that they should focus on defeating CM Elahi in the trust vote. “The opposition MPAs are conveyed by their leadership that if it has any chance to form the government in Punjab, a run-off election of the chief minister will be the main thing to hedge their bets on,” he said.

According to Dawn, a close aide to the Sharifs said that many party lawmakers were not happy with the decision to withdraw motions against the PA speaker and deputy speaker without taking the Punjab parliamentary party into confidence.

“The leadership’s decision seems to be influenced by a few blue-eyed persons who are sitting in the Centre looking after the party affairs in Punjab,” he said.

“We should have gone for a no-trust motion against the speaker; at least to put up a brave face and assess where we are standing in Punjab with or without the help of the establishment,” he said and added that the fear of a possible defeat should not have been the sole reason for this apparent retreat.

“If we can’t remove the speaker through a secret ballot, is there any guarantee that CM Elahi will not be able to secure the vote of confidence?” he asked.

MPAs PRESSURISED: A day after PTI chief Imran Khan alleged his MPAs were being pressurised to skip the trust vote, the Majlis-i-Wahdatul Muslimeen (MWM) claimed that PTI lawmaker Syeda Zahra Naqvi, who is associated with the MWM, would not support CM Elahi.

“The MWM political council has decided not to vote the Punjab chief minister for multiple reasons: MWM has not been given representation in the Ulema board, Quran board, peace committees, and Auqaf in Punjab,” the MWM spokesperson said.

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